An Investigation Into Aristotelian Functionalism

1751 Words Dec 6th, 2014 8 Pages
An Investigation into Supposed Aristotelian Functionalism In recent years, modern functionalists have taken to claiming Aristotle as one of their own or at the least a great grandfather of sorts. This essay will investigate the extent to which Aristotle was a functionalist, and once this question is resolved, we will evaluate to what degree his view reliably accounts for a valid philosophy of mind. Before we can explore the degree to which Aristotle’s philosophy aligns with that of modern functionalists, we must first account for the philosophy of modern functionalism. Principally, functionalists believe that mental states (e.g., beliefs, desires, feeling pain) are solely constituted by their function. This is their solution to the “mind/body problem”. Cartesian dualists claimed that a special mental substance (distinct from the body) is where the ultimate nature of the mental resides. Physicalists ( descendants of the materialists) equate mental states with brain states. On the other hand, functionalists assert that the mental states causal relations to one and other and to sensory inputs and behavioral outputs constitute these mental states. Some functionalists, often called computational functionalists, go as far as to say that these internal states operate in the same way as a computer program. Furthermore, this line of thought leads directly to the “transportability thesis”, which hypothesizes that a human mind could be transported into an electronic computer,…

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